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The National Trust – Stop supporting illegal hunting on National Trust land.

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The National Trust – Stop supporting illegal hunting on National Trust land.




As the biggest land-owner in Britain, the National Trust has huge responsibility to ensure that bloodsports groups such as fox hunts, abide by the Hunting Act 2004. The National Trust have decided to give fox hunts licences to ‘trail-hunt’ on National Trust land, but have also chosen to take no responsibility whatsoever for monitoring the activities of fox hunts and the associated terrier men. The National Trust is regularly provided with evidence of illegal hunting by licensed fox hunts, and in the great majority of cases, it has chosen to take no action whatsoever. It has become increasingly obvious that the National Trust is contributing to the ongoing problem of illegal hunting by providing the land for it to take place, and refusing to monitor or to allow independent monitoring of licensed hunts.




The National Trust has banned two hunts from its land so far, after the hunts were convicted of illegal hunting. The Meynell and South Staffs hunt had their licence temporarily withheld after being found guilty of illegal hunting. The National Trust only withheld the licence until the start of the new hunting season, when they granted the Meynell hunt another licence. The Heythrop Hunt’s ban is still in situ, however, this is not expected to be long-term. The National Trust has also, shockingly, stated that the presence of terriermen with terriers and accompanying tools and vehicles is acceptable as a ‘traditional’ part of a hunt. Terrier men dig into fox earths and badger setts to locate a fox that has taken refuge underground. Other exits are often blocked to prevent the fox escaping. They then send terriers into the earth so that an underground fight between dog and fox can be encouraged, causing terrible suffering to the fox, and often to the dogs. Digging out by terriermen at fox hunts is now contrary to the Hunting Act 2004.  Therefore, terriermen following hunts and using terriers/digging out thus provide reasonable suspicion that offences under the Hunting Act are taking place.




Hunts taking place on National Trust land are not monitored by the National Trust. The National Trust also refuses to provide any information about which hunts are licensed, and where and when they will be hunting. Recent cases of illegal hunting on National Trust land have been witnessed by horrified visiting families, most recently at Housestead’s Roman Villa, Northumbria, where a fox was torn apart by the Haydon hunt in front of visitors, and at Buttermere, in the Lake District, where the Melbreak hunt chased a fox into the lake where it subsequently drowned. The National Trust has stated that it is the hunt’s responsibility under Clause 22 of their ‘trail-hunting’ licence to provide information about hunt meets to the public, although the National Trust also refuse to provide any details of which hunts are licensed. If a potential visitor to a National Trust site is able to track down which hunt is licensed to hunt on that site, more often than not, hunts refuse to provide information, and the National Trust take no responsibility for this.




We ask the National Trust to take responsibility for the illegal slaughter of wildlife that takes place on National Trust land, by providing the information required to allow independent monitors to be present at hunts. This information also needs to be made available on the National Trust website so that visitors can choose whether to visit a National Trust site when a hunt is present.




We also ask the National Trust to prohibit the presence of terrier men at any hunt that meets on National Trust land, and to acknowledge that independent monitoring would discourage any potential breaches of the Hunting Act that take place by unmonitored hunts and terriermen. We also ask that the National Trust delivers a lifetime ban to any hunt that is convicted of illegal hunting under the Hunting Act.


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